Archive for March, 2018

Throughout 2017, I attempted to watch as many movies as possible using as many platforms as possible and share my observations on this little blog. After accidentally watching 3 Brie Larson movies in a row, I decided to call it The Brie Larson Experiment, a title which I only later learned was confusing for some. Of course, I didn’t think anyone would really read any of the posts, so the fact that people were confused by the title was doubly surprising.

After having nothing to really write about for the first couple months of 2018, I thought I would try something new and actually write about Brie Larson movies. Why the hell not? I watched most of them fairly recently, anyway. It gives me something to write about, and a quick look at her IMDB page does indicate quite an eclectic career. At the tender age of 29, she has already played roles like the hot girlfriend in The Spectacular Now, the responsible sister in Trainwreck, and won an Oscar for Room, playing next to a kid. No one ever gets noticed playing opposite a kid the whole movie. And to top it off, she’ll soon be adding her name to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel, the most powerful hero of the MCU, and the first woman to get her own franchise in that whole lot of swinging codpieces. That’s way better than an Oscar, right?captain_marvel_

But who is this person, really? And I don’t mean where she was born and all that (even I’m not really all that interested in that stuff.) What I’m looking to do is see what her career choices say about her personality, if anything. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure she did Kong: Skull Island for the paycheck, but a girl’s gotta live.

So, what does her oeuvre say about Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers? Maybe, after watching all those damn movies last year, I can figure it out. At least I can justify spending all that time.

I’m going to start with what would have been the first time I ever laid eyes on Brie Larson, without even knowing who she was, as Envy Adams in the amazing Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Seriously, this movie is awesome. Gets no recognition. kinopoisk.ru

Based on the popular indie comic series written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World stars Michael Cera as George Michael Bluth/Himself/Scott Pilgrim, who falls in love with the enigmatic Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and must battle her Seven Evil Exes in video game-like duels to win her heart. I know that sounds like a silly premise, but the stylized direction of Edgar Wright and the amazing cast he put together put this movie over the top for me. On a personal note, the cast includes Aubrey Plaza, one of my favorites, playing the character of Julie Powers, which is also the name of a girl I had a crush on in high school. But that’s not why I like the movie. It’s just an amazing coincidence. There are also characters named Todd Ingram, Stephen Stills and Young Neil, which should tell you something about the soundtrack, which is also worth a listen. (Why are you even still reading this? Go download both of these things now. And it wouldn’t kill you to use my links and get me a kickback. Geez!)

While Scott in the midst of taking on Ramona’s Evil Exes, he encounters one of his exes: Natalie V. (“Envy”) Adams, played by Brie Larson, who according to Scott, “used to be so nice.” They were in a band together at one point called Kid Chameleon, and when they were given the opportunity to rocket to stardom by Gideon Graves, the seventh and toughest Evil Ex, Scott turned it down and Envy seized it, and they broke up. She is now in the most popular band in Toronto (in the movie. Not Rush.) and Scott has to see her face everywhere he goes. She’s dating her bassist, Todd Ingram, who is also one of Ramona’s evil exes (and played by Evil Ex-Superman Brandon Routh). Todd is also a graduate of the prestigious Vegan Academy, which, according to Envy, means he’s “better than everyone else.” Scott eventually defeats him by tricking him into drinking coffee that has half-&-half in it, which ends up being his third strike with the Vegan Police, and Scott advances in his quest.  Fortunately, no one has to defeat Envy, especially in a Battle of the Bands, because she sings a ripping version of “Black Sheep” for her band, “The Clash at Demonhead,” named after an obscure Nintendo game.  I couldn’t find anywhere online if Brie performed the vocals herself, but she does have experience as a singer, so I’d like to think so.

Part of the drama at work here, even beyond the whole awkward exes thing, is that Envy has gone on to become a bigger rock star than Scott and his band, the Sex Bob-ombs, have, and even though Scott and his buddies didn’t really want to sell out, it still has to be a bit of a kick in the nuts, especially since, according to an interview with Larson, it’s probably tough to imagine that every girl he wants to date very likely has all his exes’ albums. The movie does a great job at building her up as a giant star, as well as someone Scott doesn’t want to talk about. Scott’s sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick), even refers to her as “She Who Will Not Be Named.” Interestingly enough, Envy herself is a rather emotionless character, although she does dig at Ramona a little during their pre-performance exchange. (“Ramona, I like your outfit. Affordable.”) When she’s on stage, however, the audience sees that the build-up was worth it.

The character gains depth, however, when Scott later refers to her by her real name, causing Envy to drop the facade and remark, “No one calls me that anymore.” We finally see that she’s not so emotionless, after all, and Larson does a pretty good job of making us feel bad for her. Scott didn’t have to defeat this evil ex, and he, in fact, may have helped her work through some of her demons. Or she just became an even bigger rock star and OD’d like they all do.images

 

 

 

 

 

I personally never read the comic, but I remember there was some criticism from comic fans that this movie couldn’t possibly measure up, and a lot of those fans were never going to like the changes, anyway, no matter how good the movie was. Michael Cera especially came under a lot of fire as the main character, because there’s no way George Michael Bluth could play Scott Pilgrim. Probably the same ones who thought Heath Ledger couldn’t play The Joker. When will these people get tired of being wrong? It should be known that Cera was called “The Push-Up King” on set because he had to get into ridiculous shape for all those fight scenes, and even dumb-down his bass-playing so his on-screen bandmates (who had just learned to play for the movie) could keep up. And also have the minor responsibility of actually starring in a movie for the first time in his life.

But this isn’t The Michael Cera Project, so what does Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World say about Brie Larson? I can only speculate, but in 2010, Larson had a resume of a lot of TV show appearances, Thirteen Going on 30, and a few high school dramas like Tanner Hall and Just Peck. Even at the tender age of 20, she was probably looking to take a step forward. Besides, what twenty-year-old doesn’t want to play a rock star?  Plus, she got to work with a great director in Edgar Wright, and an amazing cast. Who cares if she didn’t have red hair, like the Envy in the comic? (Word has it that the red wig just didn’t look all that good on Larson, so they went with a platinum blonde one. Wright was supposedly Envy_Adamsthe last holdout, too, because he wanted to stay close to the comic but the blonde just worked better. So get over it, comic nerds! He did!)

 

To be honest, blonde or redhead, Envy Adams is not the reason to watch this movie. It’s an amazing movie with a great ensemble cast, and Brie Larson is just one small cog in the wheel. It’s a fun performance, showing some comedic chops and a few layers, but she was five years away from winning an Oscar. But watch it mostly to see an up-and-coming Edgar Wright begin to show his brilliance. And then watch Baby Driver to see how far he has come.

Larson was definitely still finding her footing, but would go on to United States of Tara, Community, and then be seen by a lot of people in 21 Jump Street and Trainwreck, and not long after that, it was off to the Oscar races.